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Defoe accepts England recall unlikely after Euro 2016 snub

Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe concedes his international career is probably over after he was left out of England’s provisional squad for Euro 2016.

Former Tottenham star Defoe returned to the Premier League from Major League Soccer side Toronto FC to join Sunderland midway through last season and his 15 top-flight goals this term were a key factor in Sam Allardyce’s men escaping relegation.

But England boss Roy Hodgson plumped for uncapped Manchester United teenager Rashford to complete the line-up of forwards in his initial 26-man group, alongside the expected picks of captain Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge.

In an interview with Sky Sports News, Defoe revealed Hodgson did not contact him over his prospects of selection as a late-season goal-rush heightened calls for the 33-year-old’s inclusion.

“I haven’t been involved for a while. I’ve always thought that to get into an England squad before a tournament is based on merit,” he said.

“As a forward, if you score goals, you’ve got a chance of going. Towards the end of the season I started thinking about it.

“So when you’re not in it, it’s obviously a disappointment but I was quite relaxed about it. I just feel like I’ve done everything I could do.

“I can honestly say, hand on my heart, it doesn’t seem like I’m going to get picked any time soon.

“But I’ve never retired, I’d never turn my back on England because I still believe I can score goals at that level.

“That’s what’s kept me going, to be honest, and that’s one of the reasons that I came back from the MLS  – to get myself in the frame, be in and around the squad.”

Despite clear confidence that he could have done a job for Hodgson in France, Defoe believes the 18-year-old Rashford will shine if called upon – comparing his inclusion to the clamour surrounding a teenage Michael Owen before the then-Liverpool striker’s breakout performances at the 1998 World Cup.

Asked whether Rashford should make the final 23-man party, Defoe added: “Yeah, because he’ll probably do well. It could be a Michael Owen moment. We all remember when he scored that unbelievable goal against Argentina.

“You never know because he seems fearless, to be honest.”

Mon 16 May, 2016
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